Constructing risk across timescales and trajectories: Gay men's stories of sexual encounters

Rodney H. Jones*, Christopher N. Candlin

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper explores the way risk is constructed in the stories gay men tell of their sexual experiences. It focuses on how tellers use such stories to portray themselves both as rational actors and as legitimate members of their social groups by reconstructing the 'orderliness' of sexual encounters. An analysis of a corpus of stories derived from a diary study of gay male sexual behaviour in Hong Kong using current theories of discourse analysis reveals how narrators organize their experiences along two primary vectors of engagement: a sequential vector along which the trajectory of the sexual encounter is presented as a chain of occurrences, each occurrence contingent upon previous ones and warranting subsequent ones, and a hierarchical vector along which processes perceived on longer timescales are portrayed as exerting pressure on the ways processes on shorter timescales unfold. Examining how men portray these vectors in their accounts of risk behaviour can help us better understand both the situatedness of risk behaviour and the ways it is linked to larger social practices, identity projects and community histories.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-213
    Number of pages15
    JournalHealth, Risk and Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003


    • Discourse analysis
    • Gay
    • HIV/AIDS
    • Sexual behaviour


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